Do they move forward with the lottery in Nevada? Steps needed to do so

They are close to bringing the lottery to the state of Nevada!

Do they move forward with the lottery in Nevada? Steps needed to do so

When you think of gambling, you often think of Las Vegas. With all the casinos and action taking place on the strip, you would think that Nevada would have a state lottery.

However, that is not the case, but it could be making its way to the state soon enough. While it's not legal yet, state legislators have been working to bring the lottery to Nevada. How close are they to making it legal? And what are the steps needed to make it happen? We will dive into that topic below!

States without a lottery

New Hampshire was the first state to offer a lottery in 1964. Since then, 44 other states have started their own state lottery or joined multi-state jackpots. The most recent state to add a lottery was Mississippi, which took place in 2019.

While most states in the United States do have a legal state lottery, there are still five states that don't allow lottery sales in their state — Alabama, Alaska, Hawaii, Nevada, and Utah. There may not be a lottery in these states right now, but some of them are working to get it added in. State legislators in Alabama are trying to move a proposal forward that would establish lottery and casino gambling across the state.

The same can be said for Nevada, as state legislators are working to bring lottery to the state since casino gambling is already taking place in the state.

Why is there no lottery in Nevada?

There is a pretty simple reason why there is no state lottery in Nevada: the lottery is banned in the state, per the Nevada Constitution.

We often see states introduce lotteries as a way to add revenue to their state without having to raise taxes. These states can usually partner with gambling companies that benefit from running these lottery games.

With all the casinos and slot machines in the state of Nevada, why not have a lottery? It seems like a state lottery is being blocked by the powerful casino industry. They seem to think that selling lottery tickets in convenience and grocery stores will be competition to them, even though many of those same stores already have slot machines in the store.

Nevada is taking the steps needed to start a state lottery

While it is banned in the state of Nevada, legislators are working to undo the constitutional ban on lotteries in the state. However, it is a process that takes many steps and many people in order to make any changes.

What are those steps, and how soon can a state lottery start in Nevada? We take a closer look below.

First step: Legislative passage

Since the lottery is banned in the state's Constitution, state legislators have to work together to change the Constitution. It isn't easy to change the Constitution, so there are steps needed.

The first step is getting legislation to pass in both chambers. In April 2023, the state's Assembly successfully passed AJR5, which is a proposed constitutional amendment removing the prohibition on state lotteries. In May 2023, the state Senate voted 12-8 to also pass AJR5.

Second step: Another round of Legislative passage needed

While it passed both chambers, that doesn't mean it now heads to the governor's office for them to sign it into a bill. Since the bill would change the state's Constitution, the bill is required to pass in two successive legislative sessions.

The Nevada Legislature needs to successfully pass the same bill in 2025. However, Assemblyman C.H. Miller spearheaded the bill that passed in 2023, and he isn't seeking re-election for the seat. That means the bill would need a new sponsor and someone to take the helm. Assemblywoman Danielle Monroe-Moreno was also a co-sponsor of AJR5, so she could be the sponsor needed for the legislation's second appearance.

The bill also has another issue standing in its way: in the 2024 election, all 42 Assembly seats are up for election. While it passed with the current Assembly in place, a whole new Assembly might not be as willing to pass this bill if it comes up for a vote.

So, why are two legislative votes needed? UNLV professor Rebecca Gill told KVVU:

The intent of the Constitution is to make it hard to change the Constitution. It's not that hard maybe to vote in a particular group of legislators who want to do something really wacky. To have that happen twice in a row is a little bit different.

Third step: Time for voters to have a say

If both chambers do pass the bill again in 2025, then the constitutional change would head to the ballot in 2026. For any constitutional changes to take place in Nevada, both the Legislature and voters have to have a say in the process.

Gill said that if the Legislature wants to initiate a change to the Constitution, then the body must act twice, and the voters act once to implement the change. If the change to the Constitution was voter-initiated, then two ballot votes must take place, which would then be followed by a vote by the Legislature.

Since this constitutional change was initiated by the Legislature, then it must pass two votes in the Legislature and one vote by voters.

Fourth step: Lottery is created, and regulation is put in place

If it makes its way to voters and they pass the ballot measure in 2026, then the Nevada Constitution would be changed, and a state lottery would be allowed. However, there would still be many things to get through before residents can start buying lottery tickets!

Starting with the 2027 Legislature, another bill would have to be introduced — this time, a bill to create a lottery and state-wide regulation. The lawmakers would need to put in place what types of games and options would be available for the residents and how it would all be regulated. From there, it would finally be available to residents, who could come in, at the earliest, in 2027.

Not the first attempt in Nevada

While it seems like a promising thing to add to the state, there have already been more than two dozen attempts to allow for a state lottery in Nevada. All of those attempts, of course, failed.

A big reason, as mentioned above, is the state's gambling industry has lobbied against the idea, and they remain opposed to it today. The casinos have been working well for the state, so they don't want the competition a state lottery could entail.

Another concern for state lotteries is the issue of gambling problems. Many lower-income households spend a disproportionate amount of their income on lotteries compared to wealthier households. The dream and chance of hitting it big is found more in lower-income households.

Where would lottery revenue go in Nevada?

As we all know, a portion of a state's lottery revenue goes to some kind of social program. While many states give a portion of the revenue to help benefit education programs in the state, some also give to programs to help the elderly or help with property taxes for residents.

With Nevada considering a lottery for the state, defining where the revenue would be used would be part of that fourth step mentioned above. While lobbying to pass an amendment and allow for a state lottery, democrats in Nevada have proposed using the state lottery to be a reliable revenue stream for youth mental health services. Mental health is a huge topic and issue in this country right now, so allocating a reliable stream of income for youths in Nevada would be an amazing thing.

Lotteries and helping state budgets

The research was done by Stacker for the fiscal year 2021-2022, which broke down what social programs states funded using lottery revenue. From that study, Illinois was the only state that gave funds from ticket sales to the Special Olympics.

Of course, most of the revenue produced by state lotteries went to K-12 public schools. In addition to public schools, other programs receiving funds were programs to support veterans, HIV/AIDS prevention, education, and treatment; breast cancer awareness, education, and research.

The Indiana Lottery is the only state that gives a portion of its revenue to help aid public employees. The state lottery helps contribute to the pensions of public employees explicitly.

Georgia was the first state to set up scholarship funds for students using lottery revenue. Since then, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, New Mexico, South Carolina, Tennessee, and West Virginia have also started scholarship funds using lottery revenue.

Not all love for state lotteries

While it seems like there are only positives for a state lottery, there are people who think adding a state lottery would be a bad thing for the remaining five states without it. Yes, part of the lottery revenue is going to help fund these social programs.

However, David Just, a professor of economics at Cornell University who has studied behavioral decisions around lottery tickets, said lotteries are a “really unwise way to fund education and other public services.” Why is that? Just said that the people most likely to buy lottery tickets are the same people who rely on these government programs the lottery is helping to fund.

Enjoy playing the lottery, and please remember to play responsibly.


Comments have been disabled for this article.